The father of tennis star Novak Djokovic has responded to criticism after a video emerged on Wednesday of him at the Australian Open posing with fans holding Russia flags, voicing his support for Russia.
In a statement Friday that stopped short of an apology, Srdjan Djokovic said he was in Melbourne “to support my son only,” and “had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption.”
“I was outside with Novak’s fans as I have done after all of my son’s matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this,” he said.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace.”
He added that he would watch his son’s semifinal match against US star Tommy Paul from home on Friday “so there is no disruption … for my son or for the other player.”
Novak Djokovic will not be commenting on the situation, his management told CNN.
Earlier Friday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia had urged the tennis star to state his position on the war following his father’s actions.
“I think for him to dispel the speculation it’s important to make a very strong statement about where he stands on this war,” Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko told CNN.
What the video showed: In a video posted on YouTube by a known Vladimir Putin supporter, Srdjan Djokovic can be seen posing with a fan outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The man is holding a Russia flag with Putin’s face on it and wearing a shirt with the “Z” symbol on his shirt, which is viewed as a sign of support for Russia, including its invasion of Ukraine.